Birth and Family


Surendranath Banerjea was born on November 10, 1848 in Calcutta. His father, Durga Charan Banerjea, was a leading medical practitioner.






After graduating from the University of Calcutta, he went to England and passed the Indian Civil Service Examination. Thereafter, he started his Civil Service Career in 1871 as an Assistant Magistrate. He could not continue long in that assignment as he was dismissed on a specious charge. In order to mould his future career as a national leader, he again went to England. He was a gifted writer and orator as well. In June, 1875 he returned to India and took up teaching profession. He became Professor of English, firstly in Metropolitan Institution, then in Free Church College and finally in Ripon College, now named after him.

Political Life


On July 26,1876 he founded The Indian Association with a view to making it the focus of all India political movements. From 1878 onwards he edited a paper called ‘Bengalee’ and wrote fearlessly and with fervor on topics of national interest with emphasis on culture, unity and freedom.

He was a member of the Indian Legislative Council and also of The Calcutta Corporation (1876 – 99)

Under his able guidance The Indian Association flourished and from 1883 he conducted annual conferences, in which delegates from every part of India participated actively. In 1885 the Indian National Congress was established, its ideals and goals were similar. Surendranath decided in 1886 to merge The Indian Association with Congress , at the latter’s second session in Calcutta. He nurtured the newly established Congress, assuming its President ship on two occasions, in 1895 and 1907.

He was a vehement opponent of the Partition of Bengal in 1905 and led the Swadeshi movement with distinction. However, with the growing tide of a more radical form of nationalism gripping the country, he gradually withdrew from the Congress in 1918, espousing a more moderate line with greater emphasis on Hindu-Muslim unity. In 1921 he was knighted and he served as a minister of local self government in Bengal (1921-24).

Other Activities


As a teacher, he was keen on inspiring his students with the zeal of nascent Indian nationalism. In addition, he started delivering public speeches on important topics ‘Indian Unity’ etc. His eloquence generated tremendous impact on the Indian mind which had already been triggered by socio-religious reform movements led by Raja Rammohan Roy in particular in 19th century. In this context, the unique contribution of Surendranath to the national cause of India lay in his success in deflecting the mind of the nation from social reformation to political regeneration .He was, however, instrumental in advocating social reform like widow remarriage,raising of age of marriage of girls.



With his passing away on 6th August 1925, not only Bengal but the entire nation lost one of its noblest sons.